Are YOU a solo female backpacker?
The ever-controversial Mr Peach wrote a post recently about how he really doesn’t think much of the whole ‘solo female backpacker’ label and that, basically, we’re not in the 1950s anymore so what’s the point of the label?!
Well, as funny as his post was, it got me thinking. Why DO we call ourselves solo female backpackers? Is it because we want to inspire other solo female backpackers? Do we even need to call ourselves that anymore? After all, as Will says, we, as women, don’t often experience many bad things as a solo female backpacker in this modern world; so why degrade ourselves back to the 1950s ‘helpless woman’ with the label ‘solo female backpacker’?
I’m not saying that we should all call ourselves this and talk about nothing else. I keep that ‘label’ for my blog but truthfully, my site has developed since I first started. Sure, I still write about travels as the ‘solo female backpacker’ that I label myself to be and I may talk about woman travel more but I also talk about travel in general and write about inspiration that may or may not be to do with travelling.
*Disclaimer: I’m about to make some huge generalisations but before you get on your soapbox, I know that everyone is different and that we’re all unique, I’m just using the generalisations to make a point*
However, essentially I think men and women both look at travel completely differently. Men tend to have logical minds and take big risks whereas women usually have emotive minds. We’re taught to get all available information and think things through before making a decision, not just buy a plane ticket and hope for the best; men, however, are just taught to ‘get on with it’. So whilst I agree that no, we don’t need ‘protecting’ when travelling, I do think that solo female backpackers sometimes need encouragement. We blog to show that hundreds of thousands of women travel the world every year with no problems and that they all return safely. And above all else, to proudly say that ‘if I can do it, so can you’.
It’s not that we’re helpless. We can carry our own rucksack, drink buckets of Thai rum or classy wine from the local supermarket and bungee jump with the best of the men but what blogs like mine (I hope, though don’t hold me to that) and other solo female backpacker sites do is give women encouragement to take those first steps. We give them self-belief. But most importantly we give other women honesty.
When anyone is setting off for their first long-term travel adventure, what lies ahead is risk and uncertainty which scares the hell out of a lot of us. What we do as ‘solo female backpackers’ is try and reassure them that what’s on the other side of that airport isn’t theft, hospitalisation or death (as we too first feared) but a world of new friends, amazing discoveries and the feeling that your life will hopefully be irrevocably changed. We reassure other solo female backpackers that whilst you’re going to have bad days and feel lonely, you are going to have days so happy you will cry. We, as solo female backpackers, push ourselves to do the things that scare us to show others that the thought of being scared is far worse than being scared itself.
Women are everywhere conquering the world in their own ways whether it be in politics, jobs or climbing the peaks of mountains; we’re not weak. However, meeting other solo female backpackers somehow feels special when you’re on the road because surprisingly, there aren’t as many of us out there as you would imagine. So we share our stories, our experiences and the mistakes we made; we’re honest with each other and therefore I think the label of ‘solo female backpacker blog’ is necessary. Our sites become a forum for all those potential solo female backpackers out there considering taking the leap or are jumping but need advice on places to stay etc. I liken our websites to one of those ‘parenting websites'; we become a one-stop shop of information, advice and giggles to show that we’re not alone.
It’s not that we have created a niche (I hate that word) label purposely to exclude men but just like ‘couple blogs’, people have identified the necessity of it. As the motto in the film Robots says:
See a need, fill a need.
It’s as simple as yet as complicated as that.